Performance Management Αnd Training Needs
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Corporate Performance Management Αnd Training Needs

However, they have not yet reached a stage where we can firmly say, ‘Yes, this is how performance management should be’.

Before we get into the details of performance management, I would like to share one of my experiences to help you understand the topic better. When I was in college, I used to take up some holiday work as well as weekend jobs. One such job was to go on a minibus on the mountains on Saturdays and plant saplings there. Although the job of planting saplings was not so hard, traveling on a bus made my life miserable; we had to travel for 2 long hours on the bus which made me lethargic and worn out. It rained, and it was a miserable day, but we did the job. When we returned, our boss expressed his happiness over our performance and was in-fact thankful for what we did. Later on, I realized that what I received was an appreciation of my work—an actual ‘performance appraisal’ but for an averagely done job; except for the fact that the boss needed it done urgently, and we were willing to go on a Saturday to finish the job.

This incident among others triggered me to analyze the whole process. I understood that if I’m able to do my work effectively and satisfy the whole purpose of my employment, then I’ll be credited with my performance appraisal as to how I want it to be. So, it is very obvious that delivering what one senior or seniors want is paramount to appraisals, while at the same time it isn't necessarily anything important achieved.

But why are Performance Management Systems in companies so biased today even after having tried various methods?

Why is that we are unable to scale up the production even after taking so many initiatives and conducting so many training programs?

The reason lies within the organizational framework. There are 2 very important things that need to be fixed. First one is how we operate the business. Second is the business culture which is very sensitive, and the problem arising out of it is more severe when compared to all other things. This issue is complex because no matter how hard HR departments try all possible means to understand it, they are unable to bring about a perfect mechanism to measure performance.

If the HR needs to have control over this issue, then the HR should also participate in every appraisal discussions happening between a line manager and his team members, or they must record the entire discussion which is surely a cumbersome process; and no one would want to do it.

There are cases in which a line manager doesn't take responsibility for his junior's area but pushes responsibility down to him. He would only interfere if a person isn’t fully trained or to avert a significant loss of production. This is quite interesting because it can only work if the junior is trained and training is at the heart of all performance appraisals; "hat" don’t "hit".  When the management and the HR work closely with the key workers, they will actually discover what works and what doesn’t. But in the end the junior must be allowed to use those findings; this is the cultural shift needed and it will not necessarily come from a top-down strategy but by building one bottom-up.

The Missing Part In Training

Employees should be first trained on areas where they need improvement. Training needs analysis should focus on the sequence in which all these should operate and build from simplicity to complexity across the job, not merely focus on 1 or 2 aspects in detail. So far, this isn't particularly new data, but there is this one part of the training we need to break down; first, we need to find out how the junior employee analyses his statistics, and secondly, how the slants on a diagram should be interpreted by the reader.

So, what we have given the employee now by means of training, is the effective tool to analyze and control his job. Only if he can control his job can we then evaluate his performance. In other words, prior to this, an appraisal of the junior employee gives an indication of how the manager manages and less of how the junior performs. It is totally useless since you can’t expect all your managers to be perfect! Nothing can be gained if we allow employees to do things incorrectly and then point out their mistakes; instead, we should first show them that they can be in charge of their own job.

You may think, that you know this already and that's true enough, but the first step before we can show someone how to do his job properly is to allow him to do so by giving him space to make mistakes within limits. If we get new staff, we may find they have been educated in an old style of management, and thus it'll take time for them to readjust and groove into the new way. Some of them may even not make it and then you should let them go.

Line managers must ask and listen to the concerns of the workers. In the same way, if they see an increase in the production, they should then ask the worker what he did differently for the production to increase and propose maybe some effective mechanism for increased production. These actions should be forwarded to the HR for documentation. Bad actions are usually recorded in the form of company rules though good actions are too often attributed to individuals and are left undocumented.

Cultural Change – Honesty Is Key!

One of the main reasons why this kind of communication is not possible among staff members in most companies is because of the existing business culture. The existing culture in many companies is that, if the production is low, the person responsible for it should be threatened. In such firms, we cannot expect employees to be honest enough to reveal the exact reason for the decline in production. The employees will only come up with all those lame excuses and will most probably put the blame on something else in order to secure their jobs. For example, they may say the production is low because the raw materials required for the job was not received on time. Not all reasons are false, of course, but the majority of them is deflecting actions. When such incidents occur repeatedly, the person gets fired anyway. If you are a freelancer or an outsourced worker, this happens even quicker.

This system of justifying someone so quickly and taking actions against them instead of helping them improve their performance is a cultural shift that needs to be changed before we move forward with performance management. This cultural shift is important because once the employees are relieved of pressure, they are also able to perform well; everyone wants to do a better job and improve their performance. It is a myth that people want to sit still simply doing nothing. Of course, there may be a few falling into that category but the majority of them wishes to be successful in their jobs.

There are some other fundamental points to be added here: Statistics are key to help protect the worker from Line Managers who have poor management skills. It is even more valuable to the HR and why the HR benefits from this system so much: the HR can’t be on the ground all the time, they can’t control every conversation and thus may "fire" the wrong person. They may also evaluate training needs incorrectly, and unfortunately, poor managers are often very difficult to detect in big firms.

There is often demand for a certain type of training or certain solutions by the senior management but this doesn't mean that it is always the correct one; thus the training chosen may not actually resolve the situation. Being trained to analyze statistics and how to use them to improve your organization's production should be at the heart of every HR training.

From what we have discussed till now, it is clear that the cultural attitude starting from pointing at mistakes and errors to quickly firing people must be changed. The current practice of making single individuals bear the burden of the entire responsibility, leaving others out of it, must be eradicated. Businesses should change the way they function. Equal responsibility should be given to all employees according to their field, and this is possible only when all staff members are provided with the necessary training so as to be able to analyze their own performance, control, and tools in order to boost their production. Only when these changes occur, will the performance management be efficient. Only then, will a workable system exist, one that is fairer to everyone and which provides employees with protection and motivation to work towards a better performance.

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